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Public Statements

Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Chairman, I rise today to speak in opposition to H.R. 3409, another in a string of bills put forth by the most anti-environment House in the history of Congress.

I would like to specifically reference title V of the legislation, which bars EPA from reviewing permits that allow mining companies to dump the material they blast off the top of mountains into streams and valleys.

Last year, EPA issued a decision to reject proposed disposal of mountaintop mining waste into West Virginia streams on the Spruce Mine No. 1 property.

Let me stress that this was an extremely rare action taken by EPA, and the first time it has used the Clean Water Act to overturn an approved mining permit.

This mine would have dumped 110 million cubic yards of coal mine waste into nearby streams, burying more than 6 miles of high-quality streams in Logan County and causing permanent damage to the ecosystem.

The surface mining in the steep slopes of Appalachia has disrupted the biological integrity of an area about the size of Delaware, buried approximately 2,000 miles of streams with mining waste, and contaminated downstream areas with toxic elements.

People have been drinking the by-products of coal waste from mountaintop removal for more than two decades. Rather than clean and clear water running out of their faucets, the people of Appalachia are left with orange or black liquid instead.

But this is not just about the environment. It's about public health. The health problems caused by exposure to these chemicals and heavy metals include cancer, organ failure, and learning disabilities. Not only that, but there are multiple cases of children suffering from asthma, headaches, nausea, and other symptoms likely due to toxic contamination from coal dust.

This is environmental injustice, Mr. Chairman. My colleagues on the other side of the aisle will claim EPA is killing jobs, and I disagree. What EPA is doing is protecting the people of Appalachia from exposure to toxic chemicals that are harming them.

We must put a stop to the dangerous practice of mountaintop removal mining, and I'm the lead sponsor of the Clean Water Protection Act, which would do just that.

I urge my colleagues to oppose this harmful legislation.

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